Getting to Sihanoukville
From Phnom PenhCambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh is the likely spot from which travelers coming to Sihanoukville will originate. Most international flights from Asia and elsewhere will land here, and from the city, a myriad of tour companies offering services to Sihanoukville can be found. The road from Phnom Penh is now paved, and is of decent quality. Unfortunately, the heightened quality of the road brings more motorists, and this two-lane highway remains fairly busy throughout the day. Expect the bus trip to take roughly four to six hours (depending on traffic), with a fifteen-minute pit stop midway. Consult the information to the right for bus services and times. There are a number of minibus companies offering service to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh, read more about these services in our page about Sihanoukville Minibus Services.
We recommend booking your bus or mini-bus through your hotel or any of the gazillion travel agencies in the tourist areas of Phnom Penh. We try to have current bus schedules for all major companies, but it's near impossible to keep it current - you'll be able to find a bus to Sihanoukville at nearly any point during the day from early morning until the evevning. Mini-bus schedules are a bit more limited, so it's best to book a day in advance. There will be a $1 or $2 commission for this service, but they do the work for you, and you can usually get free pickup to the bus station - this convenience is well worth the extra dollar or two.
Shared TaxisA shared taxi will be much less expensive than a private taxi, because you will be crammed into a car with up to six other people. At times, you will luck out and get a mini-van instead, but the driver will always attempt to maximize his profit by filling the car to it's brim. It is not unusual to also share the taxi with boxes of goods and even chickens. A shared taxi will often make several stops along the way when someone needs to alight or embark. Expect to pay around 25,000 to 30,000 KHR for the four hour trip.
Private TaxisA private taxi will run you between $40 and $50, but the trip will be more comfortable, and the trip will not always be direct, as the driver will often stop for petrol, bathroom or snacks, and even pick up goods from one en-route city to another, sometimes driving miles out of the way to deliver a package of fish or mushrooms. This is more common with taxis traveling between Koh Kong and Sihanoukville, as the bus service between the two cities is far less frequent. Private taxis bound for Sihanoukville can usually be found at the southwest corner of Psar Thmey, the central market. Private taxis bound for Phnom Penh from Sihanoukville wait for passengers near the central market (Psar Leu).
Overland from ThailandTravelers coming into Cambodia from Bangkok or Pattaya will need to take a bus, taxi or mini-bus to Trat. It's 5-6 hours by mini-bus or taxi from Bangkok, and, depending if you get an express bus or local, it will take anywhere from 7 hours to an eternity. Avoid getting on a local bus, as they will seemingly stop every 100 meters to pick up or drop off a single person and you will have to transfer in either Chonburi, Rayong or Chanthaburi before you alight in Trat. It's actually less expensive to purchase a ticket on a direct bus than it is to buy a ticket for each local bus. We recommend that you take a mini-bus, as it's faster, and they will often take you all the way to the border rather than to Trat, which is 90 kilometres from the border at Had Lek. If your heart is set on going by bus, once you alight at the Trat bus station, you will need to get a minibus to Had Lek. There is a special quay at the Trat bus station for minibus service to the Cambodian border (with a brief stop in Khlong Yai). The fare for is 120 Baht, and takes about an hour and a half. Tourist areas of Bangkok and Pattaya are full of mini-bus and taxi services, so you're certain to find something that's both quick and within your budget. In Pattaya, We personally recommend the mini-bus service that operates near the Tesco-Lotus Express on Sukhumvit near Numchai Electronics in Pattaya gives good mini-bus rates to Trat via Chanthaburi for 240 Baht per person.
It's become common knowledge that this border checkpoint (Cham Yaem) is corrupt, and insists on collecting visa fees in Thai Baht instead of US Dollars. This can effectively double the price, as they still use the 45:1 Baht-to-Dollar ratio from 2003. Check the visa page for more details on this known issue.
Once you cross into Cambodia, a barrage of touts will surround you offering their wares. First, there are the "assistants" at immigration that will insist on filling out your visa application for you, and will insist on a 100 Baht "tip". This is unnecessary. Second, you will be innundated by taxi drivers who will offer you rides to Koh Kong and Sihanoukville. The city of Koh Kong is 15km from the border, and a rides via motorbike taxi, tuk-tuk and car taxi will cost 100 Baht, 200 Baht and 300 Baht, respectively. These are average prices and are dependent on your haggling skills, whether or not it's raining, and how greedy the drivers are feeling that day. Remember that in Koh Kong, the Thai Baht is the preferred currency, so be sure to have plenty with you before leaving Thailand. You will need US Dollars in Cambodia, but we recommend changing money in Bangkok or Pattaya and not the border, as they offer fairly poor rates. Do not change Baht into Cambodian Riel at the border, as the rates are especially poor - I've personally tried and would have lost the equivalent of $20 on a 6000 Baht excnage had I bought Riel at the Thai side of the border.
TaxiMost will start out with a $80 price tag, but this should be no more than $60, depending on the current price of fuel. They will try and charge more if there are more people in your party. They are well aware that an $80 price tag for a party of four arriving after 1:30PM is cheaper than the taxi to Koh Kong, the stay at Apex Hotel and the bus the next morning. The road from Koh Kong to Sre Ambel (Route 48) is newly surfaced, although very rough in some sections where mudslides or heavy rain have battered the road. Newly constructed bridges spanning the rivers make it much easier to travel this road than it was in the past when the road was not paved and vehicles had to be ferried across rivers and inlets to the other side. The trip should take four hours, depending on the tenacity of your driver, and how many unscheduled stops he makes. Don't worry or get annoyed if the driver makes a few stops around Koh Kong, they first must pay the local "fee" to the local police (read mafia), fill up with fuel, and may at times pick up goods at the market there and drop them off at his village along route. This is a practice that can be annoying, but it's commonplace - think of it as an opportunity to see rural Cambodia. Before departing, insist that the driver takes you the entire distance to Sihanoukville, as some will transfer you to a shared taxi (cram-packed mini-bus) in Sre Ambel or Veal Rinh fiegning car trouble.
BusSince the completion of Route 48, this is the most popular option for those not willing to shell out the money on a private taxi. Several bus companies serve this route, including Paramount and Rith Mony, offering tickets for roughly $8 directly from the ticket offices.
Virak Buntham also serves this route, but we strongly advise not using them under any circumstances. In the interest of keeping tourists informed and safe, it is our duty to warn travelers that this company regularily steals items from passenger luggage on night bus routes to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Although the risk is lowered on a short, four-hour daytime journey, we advise everyone to boycott this company for any transportation needs.
FerryBecause of Route 48's completion, the relative low cost of the bus compared to the ferry (700 Baht/$20), the ferry service has stopped permanantly as of 2009.
Traveling Onward to ThailandOnce you're ready to leave town and travel onwards, there are multiple methods to get back to Thailand. Busses to Koh Kong leave at 8:00AM daily, and from there you can take a motorbike taxi or tuk tuk to the border at Cham Yaem. There is always the more convenient (but expensive) option of a private taxi - good bartering can bring this price to around $50. For the more intrepid traveler, there are shared taxis. These are slow and they will crowd as many bodies into the car as possible. With a shared taxi, you will have to switch taxis in Veal Rinh and find another taxi going to Koh Kong. These taxis will not leave until the car is full, which can take up to an hour. Expect to pay (in Riel) around 15,000 for the entire journey. You will be dropped off at the Koh Kong bus station where you'll need to pay extra for a motorbike taxi or tuk-tuk. Both private taxis and shared taxis can be hired on 7 Markara Street near Phsar Leu (Central Market). Look for the parked cars with their hatch-backs open.
Once you cross into Thailand, you can catch a mini-bus into Trat where you can then travel onward to Pattaya or Bangkok via mini-bus (~300 Baht), private taxi (~2,700 Baht) or bus (~160 Baht). Of course, doing things this way is for the more intrepid traveler and is only marginally more expensive than booking the whole thing direct. Most travel services such as Cool Banana Travel or ANA Travel can arrange the entire trip for you for around $23-25.
Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville via BusThere is no central bus station in Phnom Penh, so each bus service has its own departure spot. We no longer list prices and departure times here, as they change so frequently.
By far, the simplest way to arrange your bus or mini-bus travel is to book through one of the many travel agencies in Phnom Penh. In fact, nearly every hotel will be able to book for you WITH free transport to the bus station. There may be a $1-2 commission added to the price, but it's far easier!